2016 Australia Day Honours – another sausage fest

Congratulations to everyone who was awarded Australia Day Honours this year.  This post in no way is to take away from the awards and the good work that has been done (and is still being done for the most part) by these people.  This post is to look at the stark gender disparity in these awards, to draw attention to the fact that despite women making up half of Australia’s population, we are recognised at a significantly smaller proportion than men.

This is really a data post, there will be graphs and tables, and links, and it will be short, because apart from pointing out the obvious issues, it’s a bit hard to say much else apart from NOMINATE MORE WOMEN EVERYONE.

I pulled the list of awardees from the ABC website, pasted them into Excel and then started noting their gender.  This is problematic for anyone who doesn’t identify as male and female, and may have resulted in me misgendering someone who is gender queer.  I am unaware of any genderqueer people being honoured in the very quick research I’ve put into this, so if I have made a mistake, please let me know.

Where I was unable to identify the gender of the honouree at first glance, I went and looked them up.  The Sydney Morning Herald listed the titles of the awardees, sometimes making it easier, and where they had a gender neutral title, I went looking for them online, until I found a biography or photo.

So, the data breaks down as follows:

Women Awarded Men Awarded Total Awards % Women
AC 3 7 10 30%
AM 46 128 174 26%
AO 15 30 45 33%
OAM 117 258 375 31%
Grand Total 181 423 604 30%

Half the population, less than a third of the awards in total.

Inga Ting at the Sydney Morning Herald has written:

Even if every woman nominated for an Order of Australia award this Australia Day had been successful, women would still have taken home only 40 per cent of awards, figures from the Governor-General’s office show.

Women are more likely than ever to succeed when they are nominated, but they remain no more likely to be nominated than a decade ago, according to historical data.

This year, 75 per cent of women nominated in the general division of the Order of Australia Award made the Honours List, compared with 72 per cent of women nominated in the five years to 2016 and 59 per cent in the five years to 2006.

What can do you do to help?  Think of the women in your life, communities, schools, workplaces, etc that do amazing things.  Nominate them for an award.  Work with others to put them up in lights for the great things that they do. Let’s start recognising each other and winning these awards which we clearly deserve for the work we do.

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Invasion Day

I’m a white Australian.  I live a much easier life, thanks to my skin colour, than my Indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia.  I grew up sheltered from much of the truth about how Colonialism and racism resulted in the decimation of Indigenous Australians.  I was taught that Australia Day was both a public holiday, and a day to celebrate being Australian.

And I slowly learnt better.

Today I don’t celebrate Australia Day.  I listen to the Triple J Hottest 100, I celebrate my anniversary with Scott, and I read about what Indigenous Australians are thinking about or doing today.  I appreciate a public holiday, but we can have public holidays any time of year.  There is nothing to celebrate in the invasion of this country and the resulting decimation of the Indigenous inhabitants. Today should be a day of mourning.

And enough about me, read some great writing from Indigenous people about racism, Invasion Day, and survival.

Pekeri Ruska who is hosting IndigenousX this week, writes for The Guardian:

The true nature of the Frontier Wars is rarely taught in schools and most our massacre sites go unrecognised by the mainstream. Yet Anzac Day is made a public holiday so the country can commemorate the sacrifices of those who fought a foreign war on foreign shores. This is a prime example of white Australia’s denial and guilt. Maybe it’s just too close to home, too unsettling for them to acknowledge that the land they stand on was stolen, drenched in the blood and suffering of our Aboriginal ancestors. The longer they exclude or sugarcoat the whole truth from the curriculum, the longer non-Indigenous Australians will remain ignorant.

Australians can take responsibility for what their ancestors did and maybe find a true meaning to their identity by firstly encouraging the teaching of real history pre- and post-1788. They could go further to understand that not all Aboriginal people want to be recognised in the Australian constitution, and that voting in any election on this issue is an assertion of their privilege.

Luke Pearson (whom I hope that one day I will actually get to meet and buy a drink/meal for) writes at IndigenousX (which he also founded):

If we ever do change the date of Australia Day, it will most likely just become another such ‘moment’.

What words can I write that will have an impact on this? What ‘moment’ can I create for people that will make you realise that ‘moments’ are not just worthless, they can actually be dangerous? What can I say to make people want to give up the benefits of white privilege, and the good feeling that comes from being a good white saviour? How can I help make people see that the reason I write is not for them to have a moment, but in the hopes that it will help bring about change?

But how deep down the rabbit hole are people willing to go? All those people who signed the pledge or who tweet the slogan ‘Racism it stops with me’, how willing are they to make that slogan a reality? What happens when they are told that doesn’t just mean standing up to other people but might also mean taking a look inside themselves? This is what we will need to happen to bring truth the idea that ‘it stops with me’. Because at the moment, from where I am sitting, it never stops.

The awesome Celeste Liddle writes at NITV:

This reinforcement of Australia Day as a day of jingoistic pride was, in my view, a product of the Howard years. In his time as Prime Minister, John Howard would frequently reiterate need to show pride in this country while labelling the attempts by Indigenous activists and historians to bring the true nature of colonisation to the public’s attention as being “black armband” views – just focussed on negatives.

As a person who takes a strong stance in favour of the negotiation of a treaty, I therefore tend to not be too supportive of the calls of many Aboriginal people and our allies to change the date of Australia Day so it doesn’t commemorate the invasion. In my reckoning, until there is a treaty there will be no other date to celebrate the birth of this nation on. And to be honest, I’ve never really understood why non-Indigenous Australia wouldn’t want the opportunity to start afresh. The 26th of January also commemorates the day some of the poorest and most desperate citizens of Great Britain were dumped on the shore of a land halfway across the world to undertake years of cruel labour as punishment for stealing loaves of bread. The opportunity to commemorate the day we come to the table, as equals, and negotiate the way this country moves forward, would indeed make me proud of this country and our ability to work toward a better future. Until then, I much prefer the idea of Invasion Day remaining a day of Indigenous protest and the assertion of sovereignty.

The answer is also not for white Australia to include more Aboriginal people in Australia Day events. It’s not to get more Aboriginal people to sing the National Anthem in public. It’s not to include a welcome to country ceremony before ignoring what this ceremony means. It’s not to misappropriate our iconography as a way of selling your meat. Doing all this merely erases our history and assimilates our identity.

Stan Grant’s speech about racism and the Australian Dream, from a debate in 2015 hosted by The Ethics Centre:

I love a sunburned country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges.

It reminds me that my people were killed on those plains. We were shot on those plains, disease ravaged us on those plains.

I come from those plains. I come from a people west of the Blue Mountains, the Wiradjuri people, where in the 1820’s, the soldiers and settlers waged a war of extermination against my people. Yes, a war of extermination! That was the language used at the time. Go to the Sydney Gazette and look it up and read about it. Martial law was declared and my people could be shot on sight. Those rugged mountain ranges, my people, women and children were herded over those ranges to their deaths.

 

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The arbitrary line in the sand – end of 2015

So this year has been pretty intense.  I’ve dealt with having a cancer diagnosis and the related treatment (currently cured – hooray!).  I’ve dealt with James losing his job and supporting his mental health through that.  I’ve dealt with a really intense and stressful trip to India.  That’s just the last 6 months.  I can barely tell you what happened in the first half of this year that is almost over, because cancer pretty much overshadowed everything – unsurprisingly.  I do have vague memories that it wasn’t particularly good.

I’ve been looking forward to 1 January 2016 so I could kick 2015 in the arse as it left.  It’s an arbitrary line, New Years Day, there is no reason why Friday is the first day of a new year other than that’s what someone decided many hundreds of years ago.  It would make more sense that midwinter/midsummer – a day we have been able to predict with a high degree of accuracy for many hundreds of years – be the beginning/end of a year, but for some reason it’s not.

I’m not complaining, I just think it’s an interesting thing.

I am looking forward to 2016 being a much better year for myself and my family.  I’m looking forward to finding a new job, for James to find a new job, for our finances to even out, for travel plans that I have to resolve, for all my friends and family to have a much less stressful year, for everyone’s health to improve, and for everyone to be safe.

May 2016 be excellent to all of us.  May those of us who make new year resolutions keep them, may those of us who have hopes and dreams for 2016 achieve them, may everyone be awesome to each other.

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My trip in India

So I have recently returned from a two and a half week trip in India  I have a lot of photos, they are here.

Where do I start.  There are some amazing contrasts in India, not just the well-off and poor divide, but the rapid pace of development and ancient monuments, pollution/litter and natural beauty, corruption and generosity, and traffic… that’s a whole category on it’s own.

Continue reading My trip in India

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Breasts and cancer

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, I’ve recovered from radiotherapy (harder mentally than surgery because you’re completely exhausted), I’ve travelled to India (will blog more about that later), and it’s almost Christmas.

I’ve been collecting some articles about breast cancer, the cost of treatment, what we die from young (women = breast cancer), how trans people need to be careful of breast cancer, and really what you can do to ensure that you catch cancer early and get it treated quickly.

Continue reading Breasts and cancer

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I believe in limitations on free speech

I don’t think that speech which harms minoritised groups should be protected. I don’t think that giving another platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech regarding a minoritised group is necessary or that it will add to any ongoing debate. I don’t think that providing a platform to someone who has engaged in hate speech will in any way help them realise that they are harming a group of people, nor will it educate those who are on the fence regarding an issue. In my opinion all it does is reaffirm their existing position, it does not give them an opportunity to learn about how they have harmed others, nor an opportunity for others who do not understand that harm, to understand it better.  I am really not a fan of people (who usually have multiple other platforms) being given another platform to other or dehumanise groups of vulnerable people.

Before I go any further I want to state I am not a trans person, I am cis-gendered.  I do my best to be a good ally to the trans community, but I will (and do) fuck up from time to time.  I will do my best to learn from my mistakes.

Continue reading I believe in limitations on free speech

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Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

Come one, come all to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I know an apostrophe goes in there somewhere, and that is where it goes today.  There are many wonderful things about the number 89, it’s 24th prime number, following 83 and preceding 97. 89 is a Chen prime and a Pythagorean prime. It is the smallest Sophie Germain prime to start a Cunningham chain of the first kind of six terms, {89, 179, 359, 719, 1439, 2879}. 89 is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n - 1. M89 is the 10th Mersenne prime. (all from Wikipedia)  I don’t know what most of that actually means, but I share it for your edumacation.

Anyway, September was yet another fantastic month to be a blogger in Australia and New Zealand, particularly a feminist blogger.  There was the “knifing” of Tony Abbott, a new Minister for Women in Australia, a new Australian Prime Minister (more primes), Chris Brown effectively banned from Australia, lots of commentary on the scourge of domestic violence, spring started and Melbourne eventually started to warm up.  I haven’t been paying attention to the weather in other parts of Australia and New Zealand, so I hope your weather was also more spring like, and less winter/summer like.

If you reside in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like to host a future Down Under Feminist Carnival please let Chally know here.  It’s not very difficult, and I promise I will help by sharing relevant posts with you.  And now on with the carnival.

Continue reading Welcome to the 89th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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Cancer Update: Radiotherapy Day 6

So I’ve had a few days of radiotherapy now, and thought I’d provide a general update as to how it is.

So I rock up at the hospital, sign in and be advised if my appointment for the following day/week has changed, go to the waiting area, and hang about and wait.  The waiting usually isn’t for very long, and then I get changed into my hospital gown, go wait in the second waiting room for a few minutes, and then get into the radiation room.

So far I’ve only attended one of these appointments alone.  I’m very lucky I have the support of friends and family to keep me company in the waiting room, even if it is for a short period.

So in the radiation room I tell them who I am, what they’re treating, and lie down on a table under a big machine.

 

Not the actual machine at the hospital, just one like it from a site on the internet

As I’m getting treated for breast cancer, my arms are above my head and I’m holding onto some bars.  The technicians mark on my skin where I got some tiny tattoos, and then line me up under laser beams (I am high tech) to make sure I’m in the right spot for the radiation to be delivered.  Once they’re happy they leave the room and I get shot with high energy photons, twice, diagonally through my breast in order to avoid my heart.  It takes maybe 5 minutes.

I don’t have a problem appearing nude in front of people, so constantly being topless in front of the technicians isn’t a problem for me, I can imagine it would be for some people, particularly as some of the technicians are men.  All of the technicians are lovely, and highly professional.

My breast is beginning to redden from the radiotherapy, which is the expected side-effect.  I am after all getting constantly burnt with radiation.  It’s also a bit tender, which isn’t surprising as all the cells are constantly being damaged and then have to repair each day.

I have been warned that I might get extreme burns (blistering and/or skin cracking) as I progress through the treatment.  I don’t know if the burns will hurt as much as they will be annoying.  The hospital will keep an eye on any burns and side-effects to ensure that I am coping ok and provide assistance where possible.  I have already been provided with sorbolene cream to put on the irradiated area twice a day in order to keep the skin moisturised and soothed.

I’ve also had a cold/bacterial infection while doing this, so it’s been more shit than it normally would be.  I only have 14 more sessions left.

 

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Tell me a story

I tweeted the other day (ok several months) ago, that I had come to a realisation about why I just don’t like some stories.  Everyone raved about Anita Heiss’s Tiddas, and was talking about how they related to the story about a close knit group of girlfriends.  I love Anita and bought the book to read, but sadly I couldn’t finish it, and I thought over the course of a few weeks why that was.

It certainly wasn’t the writing, Anita is a fantastic author, her writing is superb and her senses of place and character are powerful, so it wasn’t that.  Eventually I realised it was because of the key essence of the story – secrets.

It’s not that I don’t mind a book where the characters have to keep things from each other to keep each other safe, or because there are far more important things to do than discuss how a careless comment hurt their feelings at breakfast, but in a book where there appears to be no other reason to keep secrets from each other than to drive dramatic tension, I have a problem with that.

I’m not sure why this is a specific thing that bugs me about some stories.  I’m sure part of it is being a person who is open and honest with those I care about, and that I don’t like keeping secrets from those I care about unless they’re fun secrets like surprise presents or parties.  That said, I also hate surprises, so maybe that’s part of it too.

Stories are often told where an event happens and that drives the plot, or where conflict between people happen, and that’s the plot, or there is a journey or a game or things.  Stories where someone is fretting about whether or not they should tell someone else this thing that is going on in their life, when for all the history as far as the reader knows of this character and this other person is that they would have told the other, irritates me.  I believe it’s huge in romance books (another genre I don’t read).

It’s one thing that annoyed me most about [Rowena] Cory Daniell’s series The Last of the T’en (and now I discover she is also from Brisbane), sure initially the main character has absolutely no reason to trust the invader who demands she marry him, but they begin to understand each other, and there are all sorts of non-reasons for them to stop communicating.  The romantic tension is driven by them failing to communicate and it annoyed me.  The world, ideas, clash of cultures, rebel alliances, etc are all great, but why can’t they just talk to each other?

Really this is me having a whine because my I value openness in my relationships over many other things, and when I see fictional characters fail to communicate (this even happened in Glitch and that annoyed me too), I rage at them to just sit down and do the talking thing.  Yes it is hard, it isn’t always fun, and can take time, but it is necessary and the plot will happen anyway because you have built interesting characters, in interesting places, with interesting things happening to them.

I love a great “us against the world” story.  I love reading about people learning about themselves and other people.  I love reading about defeating evil, or slightly evil, or “oops we thought that was the bad person”.  I love reading about people who learn to communicate better with each other as they realise that one of them communicates in a different way to themselves.  I love most stories.  It turns out I am not a fan of stories about not communicating.

Today’s post prompted by this.

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Cancer Update #8 Radiotherapy Mapping/Planning

So this radiotherapy thing is becoming realer, and I’m getting more anxious about it.  It’s very easy to be flippant about these things when they’re off in an undefined time period in the future, but the moment it becomes real, the flippancy disappears and the anxiety settles in.

I’m more anxious about this than I think I was about the surgery.  I’ve had surgery before, I know what to expect (more or less).  I haven’t had radiotherapy.  Now that I know my radiotherapy date starting I will contact the people I know who have had breast cancer and talk to them about what to expect.  I don’t know how alarmist the radiotherapy doctor is being about being a fat woman having radiotherapy versus a thin woman (apparently I have a greater risk of skin cracking due to the burns I will get), or whether that is because I have larger breasts and I’d have that risk regardless of my weight.

Both the doctors who saw me today, the radiology doctor in training and the consultant weren’t particularly personable.  Their hands were FREEZING and I got quite cold as they poked and prodded my breasts before drawing on them in texta. I didn’t appreciate their talking about me as if I wasn’t really there, but I didn’t mind being part of a doctor’s specialisation education.

The nurses/radiotherapists on the other hand were absolutely delightful.  Their hands were warm, they were reassuring, they talked to me about what they were doing and how long things were going to take.  They apologised when they were about to touch me with something that was cold (mostly the ruler they were using) and ensured that I could get up and go to the toilet when I couldn’t wait any longer during the appointment.

So radiotherapy starts on the 22nd of September. A bit under 2 weeks away.  I will be going to the hospital 5 days a week (business days) for 4 weeks (barring sickness).  I may get very fatigued, I may burns that resemble severe sunburn, I may have none of those things and just have the inconvenience of my days interrupted with a hospital appointment.

I am a bit over the unknowns.  My life generally has a lot more certainty in it, and I prefer it that way.  But soon things will be back to normal (more or less).  I’ll start on the tamoxifen, work through the side-effects, and just be myself.

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